Album of the week: Metronomy, Less Win, Dead Buttons, DJ Shadow, Martha
Electronica kids Metronomy supply the tunes on new record Summer 08, American producer DJ Shadow presents The Mountain Will Fall and Copenhagen punk trio Less Win share their debut LP, Trust. We round up the best of this week.s releases.
METRONOMY — SUMMER 08
Metronomy are masters of the jaunty arrangement and experts at producing sprightly electronica ensembles knitted together with real instruments.
This concept album, their fifth record to date, peers back towards the last summer that founder member Joseph Mount had free, which is as good a reason as any to create a collection of songs as zippy and chirpy as this. Opener Back Together sounds like a Courtney Barnett tune, all dry comments conjuring up bland every day images with panache (“I’ll need your credit card and maiden name”), while the track most likely to snag in your brain is the supremely catchy, bounding Hang Me Out To Dry which prominently — and brilliantly — features Swedish pop queen, Robyn.
Night Owl is shot through with bouncing indie riffs and soft edged vocals, and first single Old Skool (the video for which stars Catastrophe actress Sharon Horgan in a Seventies dinner party nightmare) is raucously good. Thoroughly natty and fun.
LESS WIN — TRUST
Danish band Less Win’s debut British album harks back to the early Eighties when exciting things were rising out of the embers of punk. Spiky guitars, rumbling bass, sparse drums and urgent, surly vocals are the order of the day for this experimental Copenhagen trio. They cite influences as varied as Public Image Ltd, John Coltrane, Ravel and Shostakovich, but their raw sound and attitude makes you think of post punk.
Bury The Heart is a melee of howling vocals and discordant guitars with a jazzy interlude, while on Mare something tender and thoughtful emerges after a sonic assault on the ears. There’s a pattern to their songs; they seem like they’re going to be thrash-fests but mutate into something more interesting and unexpected. Joy Division, Bauhaus, Mclusky and even James spring to mind at times, but Less Win are ploughing their own furrow very impressively.
DEAD BUTTONS — SOME KIND OF YOUTH
White Stripes, The Black Keys and Royal Blood have all demonstrated the power of duos. Add to that list Korean indie-rockers Dead Buttons.
Formed in 2013, they got rid of their bassist and scrapped all their songs in 2014 and now sound full of ideas and angst. Some Kind Of Youth bursts with angry energy that marries the blues rock of Led Zeppelin with a punk attitude. 16-22 comes on like The Hives — garage rock with plenty of sardonic snarl — and the rest of the album follows that tuneful, snotty template.
It’s great fun. The songs that work best are shorter, sharper slabs of angular indie-pop like Nothing But You. Useless Generation offers slower, melodic introspection before parting tracks, Want It and Witch, re-establish the raucous, infectious riffs. Your new favourite garage band? Maybe.
DJ SHADOW — THE MOUNTAIN WILL FALL
It’s been 20 years since DJ Shadow’s seminal album Endtroducing, made entirely from samples, and in that time the American DJ has sought to show there’s more to him than a cut and paste crate digger with fast fingers.
Results have been mixed, but The Mountain Will Fall, his first long player for five years, focuses that adventurism into a rewarding whole.
There are glaring jolts in style here, from the epic soundscape beginnings of the title track to the heavy metal meets car alarm urgency of Depth Charge, but like a mix tape from your coolest friend, it works. Similarly, the somnambulant seriousness of ambient tracks such as Ashes To Oceans and Bergschrund, a collaboration with neoclassical auteur Nils Frahm, are undercut by The Sideshow, a burst of deranged old school scratching and Nobody Speaks, a wild Tarantino meets Tijuana team-up with rap duo of the moment, Run The Jewels. This album is all over the place, but wonderfully so.
MARTHA — BLISTERS IN THE PIT OF MY HEART
Don’t be fooled by the melancholic title of Martha’s second album, Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart. Whilst the Durham-based quartet do tackle some big issues — opener Christine is a love song filtered through anxiety and night terror — the sun-soaked melodies and harmonised guitar riffs make it a great accompaniment to a heavy dose of vitamin D. The punk pop album kicks off with Christine’s guitar thrashing intro but quickly mellows, while Precarious embraces love in a supermarket washing powder aisle — yes, really.
It climaxes with Do Nothing’s two minute, toe stomping guitar solo, capping off an album more than capable of overcoming the dreaded sophomore slump.